Cast: Meezaan Jaffrey, Sharmin Segal
Director: Mangesh Hadawale
Amor Vincit Omnia –Love Conquers All.
And so it is with director Mangesh Hadawale's film Malaal, a love story between Shiva More (Meezaan Jaaferi) and Astha Tripathi (Sharmin Segal).
When the two first set their eyes on each other it is in a Mumbai chawl it seems unlikely that love will bloom between the two. As fate wills it, the two despite their contrasting temperament, fall in love.
Shiva a hot-headed, scowling youngster is something of a parochial chauvinist, who, when not drinking and smoking, plays cards and cricket. During a cricket match, he catches the eye of a local politician when he beats the umpire to a pulp because of foul play. His shenanigans fetch him the trophy, but before he knows it, Shiva is a political recruit assigned to save Mumbai from North Indian outsiders who come thronging to the city of dreams.
Astha, on the other hand, is a North Indian, with the confidence and primness of those that have the privilege of an English education, quite a misfit to the chawl life. In case you were wondering how she lands up in the chawl—her affluent family has fallen upon hard times with a downturn of their fortune. Shiva and Astha’s paths cross, sparks fly and eventually, the two fall in love.
While Shiva falls for her hook, line, and sinker counting every step she takes, Astha takes her time before professing her love, but not before sorting him out much to her family’s concern. Given the glaring differences between them, one can foretell that theirs will be an uphill battle.
Malaal, the remake of a Tamil film 7G Rainbow Colony, which incidentally means ‘regret’, is a slow-burn love story. What works for the film is the sensitivity with which the story is handled. The pacing is languorous, sometimes even indulgent making the romance more natural. Unfortunately, the second half slackens, losing the dramatic heft so essential to stories of star-crossed lovers making you impatient with the proceedings of love. The film’s music especially songs like Udhal Ho, Ek Malaal adds a bit of tempo occasionally, doubling up on occasions as background score.
However, it is Meezan Jaaferi’s Shiva that proves to be the most attractive part of the love story. Despite his unconventional appearance, the camera most certainly loves him. Jaaferi seems to be the complete package-- he dances like a dream, can be intense and also has a bit of goofy in him. Sharmin Segal, the other half of this debut duo is charming in parts, but still a little rough around the edges.
Mangesh Hadawale’s direction, unfortunately, lacks the finesse that we saw in his award-winning Marathi film Tingya. He makes the proceedings borderline clichés, never letting them explore their true potential.
So, despite his best efforts, regretfully, Malaal lacks the pathos it needed to soar to greater heights than the Tamil original (which is the source material for the film) to make Hindi cinema audiences sit up and take notice.
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